King’s X: Ear Candy

earcandyI’ve been building up to this review with my recent run through the King’s X discography. This was the point where I left the band because I was incredibly disappointed with the album. Upon hearing that my good friend KEN thought this was a great album, I gave it another try many years after it came out, but my disappointment didn’t change. Now that Dig Me Out reviewed it, I’m giving it another chance.

I’m glad I did. Not because it’s great (it’s not), but because I can at least now hear what is good about it. First, though, here’s what I got right so many years ago. Everything’s quiet, muffled, and restrained on this album. It’s got one gear, and that’s kicked back. It ends up being very same-y. Laid back and monochromatic are not the reasons I go to King’s X. Now I can hear that a lot of this trouble lies in the production. There’s a spot in the middle of the third track, “Something,” where the guitars get more distorted and things crank up a notch, but only in timbre. There’s no corresponding crescendo, no speed up in the pace, and, worst of all, just no fullness of sound. Likewise, there’s a slew of relatively heavy tracks in the middle of the album, from “Looking For Love” to “67,” and while the songs are good, they just don’t rawk.

Once you get past those problems, though, you find there are some good songs. They’ve still got songwriting and performance chops, they’re just going with a bluesier, more roots-rock feel here. That’s a fine choice, and not an accident, but the choice to make the production reflect that choice, even for the parts of the songs that don’t call for that treatment, that’s just flat out a mistake. Furthermore, to enjoy this, you’ve got to overlook the silly song titles “(Thinking And Wondering) What I’m Gonna Do,” “Looking For Love,” “Life Goes By”) as well as things like the trudging repetitiveness of “A Box” and “Lies In The Sand (The Ballad Of…)” and enjoy what those songs can bring you. So, in an unusual twist for a roots album, this rewards closer listening far more than background listening. And as long as you don’t let the obvious flaws color your impression of the rest of the album, it’s pretty good.

Rating:
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Mix: “Picture”
– “The Train,” “(Thinking And Wondering) What I’m Gonna Do,” “Sometime,” “Looking For Love,” “Mississippi Moon,” “67,” “American Cheese (Jerry’s Pianto),” “Life Goes By”
– “A Box,” “Lies In The Sand (The Ballad Of…),” “Run,” “Fathers”
Filed Between: King’s X’s Dogman and KISW Rock 99.9 FM HFL4 sampler
Song Notes: After the jump

  1. The Train – ugh, is it supposed to sound like that? No, this track just got ripped poorly
  2. (Thinking And Wondering) What I’m Gonna Do –
  3. Sometime –
  4. A Box – way too repetitive
  5. Looking For Love – impossible to listen to without hearing “wookin paw nub”
  6. Mississippi Moon –
  7. 67 –
  8. Lies In The Sand (The Ballad Of…) – takes a while to get going
  9. Run – Upbeat, great riff, but I’m having trouble putting it to full. I like it, just not swelling with love for it. Again, maybe it’s just that the production doesn’t match what the song demands. Like, I think I like this better than other full hearts like “(Thinking And Wondering) What I’m Gonna Do,” but that’s produced right for the song. Whatever, who the hell do I have to explain myself to? Be open and be thankful for it.
  10. Fathers – Verses are full-worthy, but choruses drag. guit solo’s nice, too, but it’s buried.
  11. American Cheese (Jerry’s Pianto) – This maybe drags a bit too much for my taste, but the sound design is so wonderful I’m making it full.
  12. Picture – Second album in a row that buried its best song at track 12. Though this one isn’t so much obviously better than the others.
  13. Life Goes By – Or, then again, they may have buried their best song at track 13.
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